Outplacement service providers for layoffs, restructuring witnessing 30% rise in queries

Kolkata | Bengaluru: Outplacement and career transition services providers that are engaged by companies to help handle layoffs, restructuring and business environment changes are witnessing a 20-30 per cent increase in enquiries since Covid-19. Executives at these companies said they expect the actual demand for their services to pick up only in the coming months, when India Inc starts taking decisions on layoffs.

Many such decisions are on hold right now, they say, because of factors like government requests to refrain from layoffs during the lockdown.

Sectors like hospitality, aviation, retail, auto, engineering and manufacturing and BFSI are taking the lead right now in terms of queries, as companies undertake active research on outplacement, while at the same time also enquire about services connected to employee health and well-being.

“We have observed a 30 per cent increase in queries on outplacement since Covid (March-April) and expect a bigger demand for these services in the coming months. It’s what most responsible organisations would do for their impacted employees,” said Sue Ann Vaz, the head of value-added services at ABC Consultants.

The nature of the support has changed to suit the current need — that is reskilling, upskilling, video interview training and online job search training versus conventional resume enhancement, fixing interviews, etc., she said.

Queries for outplacement are across sectors, including engineering and manufacturing, fintech, some parts of the logistics supply chain like shipping and cargo services, IT and ITeS, said Archana Uniyal, the consulting director at PERSOLKELLY Consulting.

While the company provides HR advisory across diversified services, last month it has seen queries directed towards career transition, Uniyal said. “This clearly indicates that while there may not be immediate layoffs in several companies, outplacing employees is a reality that everyone is preparing for. The real spree of job cuts will begin after a certainty on reopening. Employers are exploring the best possible support that can be provided to employees in these uncertain times,” she said.

Support requests have also been coming in for mental health and agility support, both ABC and PERSOLKELLY said.

James Agrawal, the managing director at BTI Executive Search, India, said they had seen a doubling in outplacement queries though the real engagements would only start in June-July, with many companies likely to announce layoffs from May onwards. “Companies have already started working on plans for the post-lockdown scenario,” said Agrawal.

While a number of companies have taken a stand not to lay off now, many are planning restructuring to mitigate the current loss and the future of their business due to the Covid-19 impact, said Marco Valsecchi, the managing director at The Adecco Group India.

“We will see a lot of such restructuring happening in the coming months where our clients will need support in managing such changes, outplacement and organisational development solutions,” said Valsecchi.

Lee Hecht Harrison, the talent development and transition subsidiary of Adecco, offers virtual webinars in addition to reskilling, upskilling, mental health counselling and executive coaching.

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